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Western Red Cedar

North American Western Red Cedar: Thuja plicata


Western red cedar is native throughout Canada and the United States, it was introduced and grown commercially throughout the UK and New Zealand.


Western red cedar displays highly variable colouring ranging from dark brown to light pink, in time it matures down to a reddish brown then often to a silver-grey tone that is highly sort after by architects. The grain is straight, and the texture is coarse. Average weight 370 kg/m3; specific gravity .37.


Western red cedar has low crushing and bending strength, very low stiffness and resistance to shock loads. The timbers steam bending classification is also very low.


Thin stocks will dry quickly with little degrade, thicker sizes will hold moisture in the centre therefore care is needed to avoid internal honeycombing and collapse; this is especially true of UK stock.


Western red cedar works well with both machine and hand tools. It nails well, copper or hot-dipped galvanised nails are recommended, it screws and glues well and takes varnish and polish nicely. The timber is quite acidic and can cause corrosion of metals and stains in the timber.


Western red cedar timber is durable although standing wood is liable to attack from boring beetles. The wood is resistant to preservative treatments.


Western red cedar is used extensively for shed construction, interior finishing, exterior cladding and it is also a good material for beehive construction. European Cedar is more commonly used, however it does not have the same durability classification.